Take It As Red

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Wednesday, December 8


Lords Give One In The Eye to Tony And His Crony

I find myself in an odd position today. ( No, not that kind of odd position. Pervs.)

I'm cheering for the House of Lords and their action yesterday in amending the new Constitutional Reform Bill to ensure that any future Lord Chancellor will be both a member of the H of L and also a senior lawyer/judge/legal scholar.

As a card carrying socialist, I'm absolutely in favour of abolishing the House of Lords. I also feel that the post of Lord Chancellor, embodying as it does an anmalgam of all three of the branches of government, executive, legislature and judiciary, should also go. But as a lawyer by training and inclination I'm cheering the Law Lords to the rafters.

The Blair government came to power with constitutional reform as part of its manifesto, as is only right and proper for a supposedly left-wing party. But Blair, being the devious little shit that he is, sought to consolidate his own power as PM by, rather than outright abolition of the upper house in favour of a totally elected second chamber, putting together a totally half-assed deal, where some peers would be there by birth (to placate the Tories) and some by appointment. I am sure I don't need to say who they would be appointed by. It was the worst of all posible arrangements for an upper house; a bunch of unqualified hooray Henries and Tony's placemen. With New Labour's huge majority in the House of Commons, Parliament would essentially become a one party government.

The additional twist Blair gave to the reform was to also abolish the H of L as the highest court of the land, and to split its functions into a Minister for Consitutional Affairs and a Supreme Court. The post of Lord Chancellor would thus become a politically appointed minor cabinet post, instead of the overarching legal conscience of all branches of government that it is now. To add insult to injury he also appointed his friend and former flatmate as Lord Chancellor, to push the reforms through; the flatmate is the barrister Charlie Falconer,(he was ennobled just so he could have the post) who is competely unqualified for such a sensitive job.

Well, the Law Lords weren't having it. When the bill came to the HofL yesterday they told Blair and Falconer in no uncertain, though polite, terms that they could stick their reforms. The bill now goes back to the House of Commons. I hope that when it returns to the HofL the Lords show a little more sense than they did with the foxhunting bill, and refuse to drop the amendments. Reform is necessary, but not these reforms, and not with this motivation.



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